SPRINGFIELD — Most people in Illinois still think the state is moving in the wrong direction, but compared with last year, twice as many think things are going the right way, according to a poll conducted by the University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office.
And freshman Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, who was able to work with a Democratic legislature to pass several initiatives last spring that he had campaigned for in 2018, got positive job approval ratings from 59% of respondents in the survey.
Of all respondents, 28% thought the state was moving in the right direction, with 56% saying it is on the wrong track and 16% responding that they couldn’t say. In a survey in 2018, only 14% thought the state was moving in the right direction.
Asked how Pritzker is handling the job as governor, 16% strongly approved and 43% somewhat approved. Strongly disapproving were 19%, and somewhat disapproving were 22%.
“We saw roughly a 100% increase in folks saying things are in the right direction,” said A.J. Simmons, director of the survey research office. “I mean, 28% is not great, but it’s better than 14%.”
“We’re seeing perhaps more optimism than what’s been here previously,” he said.
The Illinois Issues Survey was fielded Sept. 13-23 among a sample of 1,012 registered voters. The sample for the online poll was selected to represent the whole state by a company called Qualtrics, and full survey results have a “credibility interval,” similar to a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The approval ratings for the governor differed with factors including party affiliation, gender, race and geographic location. Results show, for example, that 79% of Democrats and those leaning to the Democratic side approved of the governor’s performance, while that number was 32% for Republicans and those leaning Republican. Among independents, 49% approved and 51% disapproved.
Approval numbers for the governor were 50% among whites, 83% among African-Americans, 71% among Hispanics and 69% among others.
Pritzker’s job performance also got positive reviews from 63% of women versus 55% of men; and regionally, from 69% of people in Cook County, 56% from those in the collar counties in northeast Illinois, and 51% downstate — including part of northern Illinois away from Chicago, including Rockford.
Asked to describe the economy, 4% said excellent, 19% good, 39% fair and 38% poor. Last year, only 15% thought the economy was excellent or good.
And asked if they expect to be better or worse off in a year, 29% said better, 30% said worse, and 41% said the same as today.
On the topic of out-migration, 61% said they have considered moving out of Illinois in the past year. But of those 61%, only 16% looked for jobs in a new state and just 5% applied for such jobs; and 26% looked at out-of state housing but just 2% applied for such housing.
Reasons of those considering out-of-state moves included lower state taxes, 27%; state government and policies, 17%; better weather, 15%; lower crime, 13%; job opportunities, 12%; better schools, 6%; and family or personal reasons, 8%.
In 2018, 53% of respondents to a survey that year said they considered moving out of state in the previous 12 months. Simmons said that while the 61% in this year’s survey is higher, actions leading to actual moves out of state are “pretty low.’
“I think a wider study would need to be done to talk to folks that have left and maybe even folks that have moved into the state as well to … really unpack the kind of migration that has been going on,” Simmons said.
The top five destinations cited by respondents who said they considered moving are Florida at 10%; Indiana, 8%; Texas, 8%; Tennessee, 6%; and California, 6%. Each respondent who said they considered moving could name up to three states as destinations.
The survey project is co-sponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership, NPR Illinois and the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies at UIS.
Bernard Schoenburg: firstname.lastname@example.org, 217-788-1540, @bschoenburg